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Explaining Dogs in Paris

richardavedon_dovima_dogParis can sometimes feel like a city of dogs. Did you know there is one dog for every 7 Parisians? Whether you love our four-legged friend or not, everywhere you turn there’s dogs of all sizes. Big ones, little ones, well-groomed ones, wearing-sweaters ones… You see them in café’s, at the hairdressers, inside grocery stores, and even sprawled across the banquettes of fancy restaurants, but have you ever wondered are there rules for dogs in Paris? Do laws exist? Can dogs really go everywhere?

Yes and no and we’ll explain!

First, let’s talk about dog’s doing their business (also known as pooping). There are over 300,000 dogs living in Paris and they create an estimated 20 metric tons of les crottes de chien each year. Yuk! For years foreigners have moaned and groaned about all the dog poop you see on Parisian sidewalks. There are actually laws in France that say dog owners have to pick-up after their dog and you may even spot the occasional sign reminding owners about the 400EU fine if they forget their pooper scooper. Believe it or not, the French have gotten much better about cleaning up after their pets in recent years, but why is there still so much poop? Our completely unscientific explanation is that no one cleans the sidewalks regularly and so the poop quickly accumulates. For instance, in NYC many buildings have doormen who wash the sidewalks everyday. Parisian apartments have gardiens who are responsible for cleaning the interiors and exteriors (mopping entrances and polishing doorknobs) but it is the city that takes care of the sidewalk and they often pass by once a week. Parisians are making an effort, but it only takes a couple poopy offenders to make the sidewalks a mess!

Can dogs go on public transportation?

In theory, only very small dogs that can fit in a bag or carrier are allowed onto the Paris metro. The same rule applies to Paris buses too. In practice, Paris metro agents tend to be somewhat lenient with owners who bring larger dogs onto the metro, provided the dog is on a leash and has a muzzle. Larger dogs are allowed on the RER, but they have a special dog ticket, be muzzled and on a leash.

How can you tell if a dog isn’t allowed in a shop or restaurant?

sitwayxnljxxamsd2wd1rivno1_5001More and more bakeries and supermarkets in Paris are enforcing no dogs allowed policies. Look for signs that say, pas de chien, même tenus en laisse (no dogs – even on a leash). That said there are still many Parisians who are sure that rule doesn’t apply to them. Occasionally you will hear a shop owner scolding someone for trying to bring a dog into the store, but don’t be surprised if the rule isn’t enforced for regular customers. If you have a dog-phobia or are traveling with small children, don’t trust that just because the sign says no dogs, there won’t be any dogs around!

Are dogs allowed in parks?

Now here’s where Paris’ dog culture gets odd. Dogs are not allowed in most parks. The bigger parks such as the Tuilleries Gardens and Luxembourg Gardens have small areas set aside for dogs, but in your smaller neighborhood parks, dogs are not welcome. Some one once told us the reason dogs aren’t allowed in parks is because Parisians are so bad about picking up after their dogs that no one wants the parks to be covered in dog do-do. No idea if this is true, but we think it’s a funny explanation.

For those of you who want to expand your canine vocabulary, here’s a list of useful vocabulary:

dog: un chien

doggie or small dog: un toutou

large dog: un gros chien, molosse, ou dogue

derogatory words for dogs: clébard ou clebs

no dogs – even on a leash = pas de chien, même tenus en laisse

leash: une laisse

muzzle : une muselière

pet store: une animalerie

dog grooming : toilettage pour chien

Interested in learning more about Parisian culture and traditions while improving your language skills? Call or contact us here to organize private French lessons in Paris.

Photos from the Paris Apartment.